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Egypt: Opposition channel to leave Turkey amid Cairo-Ankara rapprochement

Mekameleen says it will relocate to other countries 'due to circumstances that everyone knows about'
The logo of the Egyptian opposition channel Mekameleen (screengrab)

The Egyptian opposition TV channel Mekameleen announced on Friday that it had shut down its Turkey offices and would be broadcasting from other locations amid a rapprochement between the governments of the two countries.

Middle East Eye reported last year that Turkish authorities requested Egyptian opposition channels based in the country to soften their criticism of the government of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi as the two regional powers attempted to improve their ties after years of diplomatic hostility.

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In a statement about the channel's closure in Turkey, Mekameleen said it had to take the decision "due to circumstances that everyone knows about," without specifying the reason.

It added that it will continue its "mission to report the full truth" from other countries, which it did not name.

Several Egyptian opposition journalists who used to work from Turkey have relocated to London and launched their own social media platforms after the new restrictions on reporting from the country.

Turkey and Egypt have sought to mend relations that were fractured after Ankara refused to recognise Sisi as the country's legitimate leader following a 2013 coup that ousted his predecessor Mohamed Morsi.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was also a vocal critic of Sisi's human rights abuses against the leaders and members of the Muslim Brotherhood in a post-coup crackdown.

Since coming to power, Sisi's government has banned all political opposition and independent media, with many journalists fleeing and going into exile, and launching channels abroad, mainly in Turkey.

Earlier in April, MEE reported that Turkey has decided to appoint a new ambassador to Cairo to fill the diplomatic post left vacant for nearly nine years.

Regional realignment 

The rifts deepened further with Egypt and Turkey supporting opposite sides in the Libyan conflict.

In an attempt to mend the relationship, the Turkish government lifted a veto against Egypt's partnership activities with Nato last year and ended the broadcast of political programming by Egyptian opposition TV channels based in Istanbul.

Also last year, Turkey and Egypt held two rounds of talks aimed at mending their relationship.

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A senior Turkish official previously told MEE that another outstanding issue between the two countries was "whether President Tayyip Erdogan will be willing to shake hands with Egyptian President el-Sisi or not".

President Erdogan has hinted on several occasions in the past that he would not want to meet Sisi personally, but would allow other members of his government to hold talks with Cairo.

The recent push by the two countries to repair relations is part of a broader realignment in the region since the election of US President Joe Biden.

Turkey is also improving its ties with Saudi Arabia after years of tensions over the 2018 murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the kingdom's consulate in Istanbul. 

President Erdogan on Friday met with King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in an official ceremony in the al-Salam palace in the Red Sea city of Jeddah.

Turkey met one of the key Saudi demands in repairing relations earlier this month by deciding to hand the Khashoggi trial to Saudi Arabia, a case involving 26 suspects linked to his killing. 

President Erdogan had accused the "highest levels" of the Saudi government of giving the orders but Ankara has since sharply softened its tone.

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